Down in the Pasterns? Use a BIAS!!!

Written by Anna Lee Sanders


Exercise Suggestions | Muscle Imbalance | Training Mechanics

April 11, 2021

For dogs that are Down in the Pasterns the deep and superficial digital flexors in the pastern / carpus have a tendency to be weak. Sometimes this is breed specific, because of age (growing pups or senior dogs)… and sometimes for no discernible reason at all. Targeting these weak muscles can be a challenge because of how muscles become demoted by the brain when they don’t function well. Because they are demoted, they don’t get used. When muscles aren’t used, they get weaker and don’t function well. Because they don’t function well, they are demoted again, and the cycle of muscle imbalance continues. We can use a carpal bias to fix that!!!

NOTE: For a more detailed discussion on how and why muscles get demoted, see my blog post on neuromuscular re-education.

How to use PawPods to create a Carpal Bias and more effectively strengthen the pasterns

This video details how to use PawPods to help strengthen the musculature that supports the forelimb, by biasing the carpus into proper alignment. This is similar to the way an arch support works in a human shoe.  Since the feet are the foundation of the body, having strong feet is a critical component in maintaining alignment through the adjacent joint systems. For dogs down in the pasterns, biasing the carpus into alignment before asking the foot muscles to work is critical for proper muscle recruitment.


Just like with human weight training, if the load is too heavy, form is compromised, and the human is unable to maintain proper alignment. The same is true for our pups. If the weight of the body is too heavy for the musculature in the carpus and foot to properly engage, no amount of exercise is going to help. The weight has to be decreased to a manageable level. We do this by raising the front feet, so the pup can use proper form, and target the correct musculature. Then, the feet muscles at least have a chance to get stronger.

Progressing the carpal bias

Once the muscles that support the carpus / pastern are stronger, the bias on the PawPods can be changed to a more neutral position. Later the foot can be changed to a more difficult position. And finally, the front end can be lowered to increase the challenge/load to the carpal muscles.


Step-by-step Guidance

More information, including step-by-step guidance on how to implement formal conditioning for dogs who are down in the pasterns can be found in a number of my specially designed CCC Programs including the…

All focus on the importance of developing muscle balance and strength through the carpus / pastern, along with the surrounding muscle chains.


Looking for help with the rear pasterns? I designed the Sloppy Sitters Mini-Program an intensive 5 circuit program just for you!


All-Access members can see the progression of this exercise Paw Pod Carpal Bias: Intermediate.



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